15 September 2010

COSATU Growth Path Document

Development, Part 9b

COSATU Growth Path Document

This post introduces COSATU’s Growth Path Document, fully titled “A Growth Path Towards Full Employment” which was launched yesterday and which is linked for download below.

The African National Congress National General Council - the NGC – a national delegate policy conference - is to be held from 20-24 September 2010.

In his introduction to the COSATU Growth Path document, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said “It is going to be our Koran and Bible and nobody will burn it” (quoted in The Times, Johannesburg, 15 September 2010).

In keeping with this biblical metaphor, the document begins with a “Genesis” section that chronicles the “begats” of “growth path” controversies since the 1990 COSATU workshop that begat the very term “growth path”, according to this document. The 1992 COSATU Economic Policy Conference begat six defined areas. The ANC begat the “Ready to Govern” document.

In 1993, MERG begat “A Framework for Macroeconomic Policy in South Africa”, and all of the above together begat the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 1994. Then GEAR appeared, begat by the 1996 Class Project, and GEAR smote the RDP. Then COSATU came forth the same year with Social Equity and Job Creation (SEJC).

Other documents followed all the way to Polokwane in 2007.

There is nothing of political economy in this document, but only empirical and utilitarian arguments and projections that inhabit the same intellectual framework as that which confines their liberal competitors.

The document is relatively more “dirigiste” (steering) and less “laissez-faire” (let it be, or leave well alone) than the mainstream of the South African Treasury would be, or the editorials of the Business Day, but it is far from revolutionary. The argument is only about “getting the balance right”.

As the COSATU GS pointed out, the document is intended to stand alone as a Bible without equals, antecedents or successors, outside of the listed chain of documents from which it sprang. Of course this poses problems for those of us who study works of political economy and history. Where the document connects to Marx’s Capital, Volumes 1, 2 or 3, for example, if it does at all, is a mystery.

In our particular course on development, of which this is the ninth part of ten, prepared without the prior benefit of the COSATU growth path document, we have looked at dialectical laws of development and of class struggle, and we have looked at the history of the NEP in the Soviet Union and of peasant life in Africa, of five-year plans and the management of capitalism in China. None of the material we have looked at appears anywhere in the new COSATU document, or in its pedigree, as far as we can see, so far.

The document is 120 pages long and certainly contains some material that could stimulate a good Freirean dialogue. Here is a shortened version of the last two pages, called the “Conclusions” of the document.

COSATU’s ‘Growth Path’ document, September 2010, Conclusions (edited)

1.      The aims of the new growth path are the creation of decent work; Redistribution of income and power; Industrial development; Meeting basic needs; Environmental Sustainability; and the development of Southern Africa
2.      On Economic Policy, we have identified five areas and proposed policy interventions: Industrial Policy; Rural Development; Trade Policy; Skills Development and Macroeconomic Policy
3.      In terms of social policy we have also identified six broad areas in which the state must take the lead: Education; Healthcare; Crime, Corruption and the Justice System; Basic Infrastructure; Environmental Sustainability and Green Jobs and Social Protection
4.      We also argue that for this growth and development path to be successful there needs to be a change in the patterns of ownership.
5.      In terms of regional development, we note that the failure of South Africa to change its industrial structure, and the continued dominance of our economy by conglomerates, especially around the core Minerals Energy sectors, spells doom for regional industrial development.
6.      It is therefore incumbent upon South Africans to ensure that they change the pattern of economic development.
7.      The policy proposals made in this document should be considered as a package.
8.      This framework document is a start to a process of more detailed engagement.
9.      Er… that’s it.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading: